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Diagnosis of God

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Clusters of traits found together in one character may lead audiences to armchair diagnose that character with a real-life disorder sharing those traits, regardless of the creator's intentions. In response, a creator confirms outside of the work that they intend for their character to have a real-life disorder, whether one categorized as mental (like depression), neurological (like autism), or physical (like a traumatic brain injury); alternatively, they deny it. These statements can be made for many reasons, such as stopping characters from being Diagnosed by the Audience (and if it's creator-confirmed, it no longer applies for that) or clarifying their setting lacks an in-universe equivalent for the definitions and treatment of the out-of-universe disorder.

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Hollywood Psych may apply. Creators often believe they're depicting a disorder, but base their depiction on outdated or incomplete understanding. Some creators do have experience with diagnosing real people, but even within the various fields trained in diagnostic techniques and treatment, people disagree about what defines any given disorder and the criteria gets revised.

See also: Word of Gay (similar trope), Word Of God (supertrope), Autism in Media (index with examples that may have been confirmed outside of the work or not). This does not have to be used to know someone is a Mad God, but a character who is a god can be an example of this trope if the creator says so.


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Examples:

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    Fan Works 
  • In Breathers For Applejack, Twilight Sparkle displays several traits of obsessive-compulsive disorder, even beyond her fixation on keeping things organized in the original show. She tends to jump to pessimistic conclusions, obsessively thinks about things that stress her out, and has the compulsive tic of chewing on her hoof-tips when she's nervous or thinking. It's never directly stated in the story, but in a reply to reader comments, the author confirmed he wrote Twilight as someone with OCD. In fact, he has OCD himself, and based his version of Twilight on his own experience.
  • Let Us Be Your Poison: Pyrrha Nikos has been confirmed by the story's author to be on the autism spectrum. She has difficulty socializing with other people but doesn't tell anyone because she fears they will treat her differently.

    Film 

    Literature 
  • While descriptions of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time often describe Christopher as having Asperger's syndrome, author Mark Haddon has stated that he went out of his way to make sure Christopher wasn't described as having any specific disorder and that he did more research on the London Underground than he did on autism.
  • Geek Girl author Holly Smale was diagnosed with autism and dyspraxia after the series concluded and has retroactively described Harriet Manners as having both conditions as well, though she was not intentionally written as having either.
  • Origami Yoda: Dwight and Harvey are both confirmed to have Asperger's syndrome, (which author Tom Angleberger has himself) making them more similar. It's never said that either of them has Asperger's in-universe, but in hindsight, the girls in Tippett Academy may have had a point in calling Dwight "special". Dwight also has several of the characteristics, such as an aversion to physical contact and being eccentric.
  • In Six of Crows, Kaz Brekker has touch aversion and specific triggers that stem from a traumatic incident during his childhood. Author Leigh Bardugo confirmed in an interview with Disability in Kidlit that he has PTSD.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Badass Bookworm Renarin Kholin shows some behaviours that are consistent with someone on the autism spectrum, like stimming with a metal box. After the release of the first book, Brandon Sanderson confirmed that he's on the spectrum.
  • In Warrior Cats, Moth Flight is often easily distracted even though she tries hard to focus on things. A fan pointed out that her behaviors were very similar to someone with ADHD, and author Kate replied that she hadn't thought of it before, but that Moth Flight "definitely has ADD."
  • Wax and Wayne: Lady Steris has No Social Skills by her own admission, exhaustively prepares for social encounters, and loves to memorize facts and lists. Brandon Sanderson confirmed that she's on the autism spectrum.
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    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Bang Theory has Sheldon Cooper, a highly intelligent theoretical physicist who's also interested in typical geek stuff like comic books with his circle of friends, but he's socially unskilled and narcissistic to the point where he tends to annoy even them, has hypersensitive hearing (which he refers to as Vulcan hearing), eidetic memory, and has highly specific rules and tics he needs to follow, like certain hours for the bathroom or knocking three times.note  The creators have stated that Sheldon does not have any specific disorder; rather, they kept his disorder ambiguous due to the Rule of Funny, in that they can have him react any way they want him to in a given episode without being tied down to having to follow the behavior of a specific condition (though this is contradicted by the episode "The Application Deterioration", in which Sheldon claims to have obsessive-compulsive disorder).
  • Vince Gilligan described Walter White and Todd of Breaking Bad as sociopaths, although he uses the term very loosely.
  • The Bridge (US): Just what is up with Sonya isn't specified, but it appears to be Asperger Syndrome-style autism. Word Of God, however, states that it is Asperger's, and the actress even has Alex Plank (creator of autism community website Wrong Planet, and someone who has Asperger's himself) as her advisor. Though the creator of the original Bron|Broen denied Saga (viewed as a popular portrayal of a woman with Asperger's) had autism or Asperger's and was in fact "just Saga."
  • The Chosen: Matthew is confirmed by series creator Dallas Jenkins to have Asperger's syndrome. Given that the series is set in biblical times, this will never be discussed in-universe.
  • Hannibal: In something of an inversion, Bryan Fuller states that his version of Hannibal Lecter (played by Mads Mikkelsen) is not a psychopath; although he certainly displays psychopathic traits (sadism, manipulation of others, and of the course the whole "killing and eating people" thing) he's not a "true" psychopath in the sense that he can experience genuine empathy, regret and deep emotion, particularly when it comes to his relationships with others, and he strongly desires companionship. Mads Mikkelsen has stated he plays Hannibal more like a twisted fallen angel with a bizarre sense of right and wrong, which closely matches Fuller's own views.
  • Parker from Leverage has Asperger syndrome, but this was only confirmed by the writers and presented as an ambiguous disorder in the show itself.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch has said in DigitalSpy that he played Sherlock so that he can be read as either sociopathic or autistic or both. Steven Moffat, on the other hand, has said that Sherlock is "not a sociopath, nor is he high-functioning. He’d really like to be a sociopath. But he’s so fucking not."
  • Kate Mulgrew got so fed up with how inconsistently Janeway was written on Star Trek: Voyager that she decided that her character had bipolar disorder.
  • Succession: Alan Ruck claims he believes his character Connor Roy suffers from ADHD as well as some unspecified "delusion disorder" but has remained undiagnosed due to his family's heavy stigma on mental health.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • Nagito Komaeda, in Danganronpa, lacks proper social awareness and comes across as off-putting to his classmates, even when he's sincerely trying to be polite. He also has an intense fixation on hope that drives him to extreme lengths to see a 'strong hope'. On top of that, he is unable to fully relate to others and is entirely unsympathetic and antagonistic towards anyone he believes insults hope. He eventually tells Hajime he suffers from frontotemporal dementia before suggesting he was lying for sympathy. Extra materials confirm he does indeed have this condition, which explains a lot of his strange behavior given that he displays numerous symptoms.

    Web Animation 
  • Inanimate Insanity: In a July 2nd, 2016 AMA on DeviantArt, Soap has been confirmed as having OCD, while Suitcase has conversely been denied as having Aspergers, though that doesn't stop the latter from having a different disorder due to her strong hallucinations.
  • Underverse: After a number of theories regarding Ink's mental health and possible disorders, including one fan who complained that the character was demonizing autistic people, series creator Jakei stated that Ink was not characterized with any kind of mental disorder in mind. Instead, due to coming from another dimension and lacking a soul, such terms cannot be applied to him, thus putting him in Blue-and-Orange Morality instead.

    Webcomics 
  • Dina Saruyama from Dumbing of Age was retconned as having undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome in a blog post by the comic's author, David Willis. According to Willis, he didn't intentionally design Dina as autistic at first, but based her heavily on himself; after learning that he likely had undiagnosed Asperger's, he decided that Dina was the same way.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: When Lauren Faust was still the showrunner, she initially conceived Scootaloo's inability to fly as being disabled, then while the show was airing said that she "hadn't figured it out yet" (and as such was not disabled), then Faust stopped being the showrunner. Meanwhile, in-universe, for most of the series it was left largely ambiguous whether Scootaloo had an actual disability or was just having trouble learning to fly ("Flight to the Finish", the first episode where her trouble flying played a major role in the plot, explicitly left it open as to whether she would eventually fly). Nonetheless, many fans held her up as a role model for people with disabilities (which caused a bit of controversy between them and fans who were hopeful to see Scootaloo eventually fly after seeing her struggle). After Scootaloo was shown with child-sized wings in "Growing Up is Hard to Do" as an adult, Word Of God confirmed via twitter that that was indeed meant to indicate an actual disability, but included the line "But fans are welcome to interpret things how they like" (given that Bulk Biceps can fly despite having even smaller wings, Scootaloo's situation still is technically open to interpretation).note 
  • Luz from The Owl House was confirmed by series creator Dana Terrace to be neurodivergent during a Tumblr AMA, though she wasn't written with any particular disorder in mind. A later interview would canonize the fan theory that she had ADHD.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Entrapta is a genius primarily concerned more with science than with morality, has difficulty making friends, only eats food prepared a certain way, and little in the way of social tact. Given that it's a fantasy world, no one outright calls her autistic until character designs for Season 4 confirmed it.
  • Steven Universe: Peridot has multiple character quirks associated with autism; upon being asked about it in an interview, Rebecca Sugar stated that Peridot was not designed with autism in mind, but people are still free to consider her autistic if they want.
  • The creators of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) confirmed that their version of Michelangelo has ADHD-PI (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder predominantly inattentive).

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